(Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ælfwine »

I forget who said this, but generally languages only deal with the mess afterwards caused by sound change. It's reasonable to assume that any loss of tone would create lots of homophones, which would be dealt with the speakers of the language (for example, compounding like in Chinese.)
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Ælfwine wrote:
27 Jan 2020 00:10
I forget who said this, but generally languages only deal with the mess afterwards caused by sound change. It's reasonable to assume that any loss of tone would create lots of homophones, which would be dealt with the speakers of the language (for example, compounding like in Chinese.)
It seems that way, but we should also bear in mind that it has to seem that way.

I suspect, and I think studies of incipient changes support, that languages do resist changes that would cause too much 'damage'. But of course, we can't see that historically, because all the changes that don't happen are invisible...

That said, sometimes this 'preservation' mechanism fails (perhaps because compounding or other strategies are already underway?), and massively damaging changes do take place.

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by LinguoFranco »

Okay, I hit a roadblock with my conlang because of vocabulary generation. I found out that many of my words tend to have a one on one correspondence with English, with the exception of a few words.

What are some tips for avoiding this while generating vocabulary?

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Jackk »

LinguoFranco wrote:
29 Jan 2020 18:47
Okay, I hit a roadblock with my conlang because of vocabulary generation. I found out that many of my words tend to have a one on one correspondence with English, with the exception of a few words.

What are some tips for avoiding this while generating vocabulary?
- when you create a conlang word X, give it 3 or so different English translations
- when you want a word for some English word Y, create 3 or so conlang words for the differing uses of Y
- translate texts and create words as you need them; this can lead to conlang words with fun ranges of meaning
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 »

LinguoFranco wrote:
29 Jan 2020 18:47
What are some tips for avoiding this while generating vocabulary?
A big thing is to look at how non-English languages have divided up the semantic space. A Conlanger's Thesaurus gives a lot of crosslinguistically common polysemies. With a quick scroll-through, I found a few listed as common that aren't found in English, like using the same word for "arm" and "wing"; "slow" and "cold"; or "bowl" and "gourd". (Note: The thesaurus has weird encoding, so it's not searchable unless you use the replacement scheme in the spoiler at the end of this post.)

In some cases, your language can also make more distinctions than English does. The first examples I think of are from Romance languages. Spanish distinguishes between ser and estar, which are both translated as "be" in English. Many Romance languages distinguish a reflex of Latin sapio from a reflex of cognosco (Fr. savoir vs. connaître; It. sapere vs. conoscere; etc.); in English, they can both be translated as "know".

Then, there are less binary changes one can make. Kinship terms are a great place for variance, since languages can make more distinctions, fewer, or just go off in different directions. English follows what's called the Eskimo kinship pattern with its terms (no distinction between maternal/paternal relatives; distinction between nuclear family and extended family). The Crow kinship pattern has about the same number of distinctions, but divvied up differently. For example, the same term refers to one's father, one's paternal uncle and the son of one's paternal aunt. Meanwhile, the same words are used for one's siblings, the children of one's maternal aunt, and the children of one's paternal uncle.

Spoiler:
plain letter → encoded letter (e.g. To search <a>, type <d> in the search bar.)
a→d
b→e
c→f
d→g
e→h
f→i
g→j
h→k
i→l
j→m
k→n
l→o
m→p
n→q
o→r
p→s
q→t
r→u
s→v
t→w
u→x
v→y
w→z
x→[
y→\
z→]

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor »

LinguoFranco wrote:
29 Jan 2020 18:47
Okay, I hit a roadblock with my conlang because of vocabulary generation. I found out that many of my words tend to have a one on one correspondence with English, with the exception of a few words.

What are some tips for avoiding this while generating vocabulary?
Look up the words in wiktionary and check other languages beside English. Look up the words and see what other additional meanings they have in these languages.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Pabappa »

There was a nice thread on the old ZBB at http://www.incatena.org/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=19697 but the database has been corrupted and now a lot of the most crucial posts are blank. I couldnt find it preserved on archive.org either. There's still a few good ones left, e.g. http://www.incatena.org/viewtopic.php?p=442372#p442372 .

I think cultural considerations can provide you with multiple words for what in English would just be one word. e.g. Japanese has dozens of words for swords, and Swahili has just about as many for knives. My cultures are extremely pacifistic by Earth standards, so I've given the Poswobs six words for knife, since they need knives in the kitchen, but only two for sword, since most Poswob men will never see a sword up close unless it's pointing right at them.

Likewise, one word in your language can correspond to multiple words in English. This is called polysemy, and is much tougher than the opposite because it's easy enough to just say that there are six words for different kinds of knives, but giving wide semantic ranges to existing words requires a lot of thought for each individual word. I havent gotten very far with this myself, and much of the polysemy in Poswa is just due to happenstance sound changes where two words coalesced together and I decided to remove one of them from the parent language's word list and say that it was just semantic drift all along. e.g. i have one word that means both "exact, precise" and "snug, tight", which i think was originally two unrelated words that i decided to merge into one even in the parent language. Others are true semantic drift that I made up on my own, though: e.g. Poswa ples "student; to spy on, track from a stationary position".

Ive created a couple of polysemic entries from dreams .... e.g. i had a dream a few days ago where i used the word "dot" for a small, restricted connection between two things, even though i was physically picturing a long thin object like a wire.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus »

Pabappa wrote:
30 Jan 2020 00:00
I think cultural considerations can provide you with multiple words for what in English would just be one word. e.g. Japanese has dozens of words for swords
English has dozens of words for swords!

Sword, broadsword, longsword, shortsword, backsword, smallsword, sabre, scimitar, tulwar, katana, wakizashi, shamshir, cutlass, rapier, estoc, foil, epee, claymore, zweihander, espardon, flammard, flamberge, spatha, gladius, cinquedea, falx, falchion, machete, khopesh, scramasaex... and that's just off the top of my head, and I'm not a sword person...

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Pabappa »

indeed. we also have a history of swordfighting and fashioning ceremonial weapons. i wasnt intending to imply English lacked such a vocbulary, but that English lacks vocabulary for other concepts that in a con-culture might be greatly expanded.
I'll take the theses, and you can have the thoses.

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Reyzadren »

Is anyone interested in trying another conlang magazine collab for 2020? (similar to this thread)

Note: If you are Dormouse559 or Vlürch, you are more than welcome to reuse your well-crafted materials ofc [:D]
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by LinguistCat »

Since some of the reconstructions for Old Japanese vowels involves both rising and falling diphthongs, I'm considering having palatalization of both consonants before rising palatal diphthongs (I'm not sure I'll do anything with velarization or rounding), and consonants after falling diphthings (which I've only seen end in /j/ in the reconstructions I'm working from).

Does this have precedence IRL, or at least sound realistic?

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 »

Reyzadren wrote:
02 Feb 2020 23:03
Is anyone interested in trying another conlang magazine collab for 2020? (similar to this thread)

Note: If you are Dormouse559 or Vlürch, you are more than welcome to reuse your well-crafted materials ofc [:D]
Certainly! I may just take you up on that offer. But if I get another good story idea, I might make a new article. [:)]

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Creyeditor »

LinguistCat wrote:
03 Feb 2020 00:07
Since some of the reconstructions for Old Japanese vowels involves both rising and falling diphthongs, I'm considering having palatalization of both consonants before rising palatal diphthongs (I'm not sure I'll do anything with velarization or rounding), and consonants after falling diphthings (which I've only seen end in /j/ in the reconstructions I'm working from).

Does this have precedence IRL, or at least sound realistic?
I assume that the non-peak of the diphthong is phonologically a glide /j/.

(i) There are languages where /j/ causes/triggers palatalization but /i/ does not.
(ii) There are languages where palatalization applies if a consonant is preceded by a trigger
(iii) There are languages where palatalization applies if a consonant is followed by a trigger.
(iv) I suspect there are also languages where a consonant undergoes palatalization if is either preceded or followed by a trigger.

I am not sure if there are languages with (i) and (iv), but I don't see any reason why there should not be.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Pabappa »

I missed the question above. Swahili has lost its tones, and with no compensation, and it's doing fine. It happens a lot more when the tones carry a low functional load, as in most Bantu languages. Also, Japanese foreign learners often don't learn the tones and they also do fine; there are a few areas even within Japan where tone has also gone flat.

A better example might be Chinese, though. Shanghai's dialect has not lost tone entirely, but it's gotten most of the way there, with the result that the whole language has been reworked, and it's not really a dialect after all, but a wholly separate language. This is what will happen if the tones carry a high functional load.
---------
and further on the vocabulary question ... i remembered just now that Hawaiian has a word that means "to strain out impurities" and "to criticize constructively". its given as 2 separate definitions in the Hawaiian dictionary at wehewehe.org , but i suspect it is one original word. i think Polynesian languages are known to have a lot of polysemous roots.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by LinguistCat »

Creyeditor wrote:
03 Feb 2020 19:44
I assume that the non-peak of the diphthong is phonologically a glide /j/.
That's the assumption for e1 vs e2 which tend to be denoted as something like /(j)e ej/. i1 vs i2 might be any of /i 1/, /ji ij/, or /i wi/, while o1 vs o2 tends to either be /wo o/ or /o @/
I am not sure if there are languages with (i) and (iv), but I don't see any reason why there should not be.
Even if there isn't I could still have reasons why e/i1 would act differently on consonants than e/i2, so I'm glad there could be some logic behind this.

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by yangfiretiger121 »

Salmoneus wrote:
30 Jan 2020 02:29
Pabappa wrote:
30 Jan 2020 00:00
I think cultural considerations can provide you with multiple words for what in English would just be one word. e.g. Japanese has dozens of words for swords
English has dozens of words for swords!

Sword, broadsword, longsword, shortsword, backsword, smallsword, sabre, scimitar, tulwar, katana, wakizashi, shamshir, cutlass, rapier, estoc, foil, epee, claymore, zweihander, espardon, flammard, flamberge, spatha, gladius, cinquedea, falx, falchion, machete, khopesh, scramasaex... and that's just off the top of my head, and I'm not a sword person...
"Sword" is the only general word. Everything else you listed is a type, such as rapier, or a subclass, such as short sword. Also, several of them, such as zweihander, are still, technically, borrowed.
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Nortaneous »

LinguistCat wrote:
03 Feb 2020 00:07
Since some of the reconstructions for Old Japanese vowels involves both rising and falling diphthongs, I'm considering having palatalization of both consonants before rising palatal diphthongs (I'm not sure I'll do anything with velarization or rounding), and consonants after falling diphthings (which I've only seen end in /j/ in the reconstructions I'm working from).

Does this have precedence IRL, or at least sound realistic?
I don't know about general precedence but I don't think this is realistic for Japonic. Semivowels tend to be tightly bound to the preceding consonant, and Old Japanese lost its diphthongs pretty quickly.
Vlürch wrote:
26 Jan 2020 19:54
Is it too unnaturalistic for a language to just straight up lose tone, creating tons of homophones? Especially if the same language has lots of mergers, like /pʰ/ and /kʰ/ both becoming /h/ word-initially and stuff like that?
Rurutu merged four consonants into the glottal stop, which given that it's Polynesian probably created a lot of homophones.
yangfiretiger121 wrote:
05 Feb 2020 19:39
"Sword" is the only general word. Everything else you listed is a type, such as rapier, or a subclass, such as short sword. Also, several of them, such as zweihander, are still, technically, borrowed.
A lot of them are. It's also worth noting that languages don't have to have general words for things. Aslian has been claimed to mostly lack general words.

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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Khemehekis »

Salmoneus wrote:
30 Jan 2020 02:29
Pabappa wrote:
30 Jan 2020 00:00
I think cultural considerations can provide you with multiple words for what in English would just be one word. e.g. Japanese has dozens of words for swords
English has dozens of words for swords!

Sword, broadsword, longsword, shortsword, backsword, smallsword, sabre, scimitar, tulwar, katana, wakizashi, shamshir, cutlass, rapier, estoc, foil, epee, claymore, zweihander, espardon, flammard, flamberge, spatha, gladius, cinquedea, falx, falchion, machete, khopesh, scramasaex... and that's just off the top of my head, and I'm not a sword person...
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Ser »

I find it hilarious that when I was a teenager I became familiar with the stereotypes of all those types of swords listed by Salmoneus because of an interest sparked by videogames. I haven't looked into sword stuff in a bit over a decade but I still remember them...
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Re: (Conlangs) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 »

LinguistCat wrote:
03 Feb 2020 00:07
Since some of the reconstructions for Old Japanese vowels involves both rising and falling diphthongs, I'm considering having palatalization of both consonants before rising palatal diphthongs (I'm not sure I'll do anything with velarization or rounding), and consonants after falling diphthings (which I've only seen end in /j/ in the reconstructions I'm working from).

Does this have precedence IRL, or at least sound realistic?
Thanks to something Aszev sent me earlier today... Slavic. At least in the run up to Common Slavic, there has been both regressive and progressive palatalistion, whereby various sounds were palatalised (to some degree or another) before and after front vowels and /j/ respectively.

I don't think it would be unreasonable to have similar changes occur adjacent to Vj and jV diphthongs.
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